The 5c Henri Bourassa stamp of Canada from 1968

The Commemorative Issues of 1968

In today's post I move fully into the beginning of a new era of Canadian postage stamp production with the commemorative issues of 1968. 12 commemorative stamps were printed in this year, and two firms were responsible for their production: the Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN) and the British American Bank Note Company (BABN). The CBN printed their stamps using photogravure, lithography, engraving and lithography and engraving. There was only one stamp produced in this year by engraving only, and that was the Armistice Memorial Issue, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War 1. The BABN employed lithography and a combination of engraving and photogravure to print their stamps. 

All of the stamps printed in this year were printed in the new metric sizes that were first introduced the year before. Perforations were quite varied. The CBN continued to use the line perforations that have been discussed in so many previous posts, and I would expect that all four gauge measurements can be found on the stamps perforated in this manner. The BABN experimented considerably with both line and comb perforating, producing stamps that are line perforated 11 as well those that are comb perforated 10. In addition, the BABN did not perforate all the panes on all sides, but rather guillotined them apart, so that most panes usually have 2 straight edges, resulting in stamps with straight edges - something not widely seen since the 1922-1934 period. 

This is the first period in a while that shade varieties are not as predominant as before. The colours on most of the stamps are quite uniform, with few exceptions. There are some interesting paper varieties, though not as many variations of the dull fluorescent papers as before. Rather, this is where we see both extreme ends of the scale, from dull and non-fluorescent on the one end, to hibrite on the other. As far as gum goes, all the stamps are printed with dextrine gum, but there is some considerable variations in the thickness and sheen of these gum types. 

The Stamp Designs, Printers, Designers, Dates of Issue and Quantities

 

The 5c Grey Jays Stamp of Canada from 1968

5c green, black and red

Grey Jays

Canadian Bank Note Company

Printed by lithography

Issued: February 15, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,300,000

Designed by: Martin Glen Loates

 

The 1968 Meteorology Stamp of Canada from 1968

 5c multicoloured

Meteorology

British American Bank Note Company

Printed by lithography

Issued: March 13, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,600,000

Designer: George Sarras Fanais

 

The Narwhal stamp of Canada from 1968

 5c multicoloured

Narwhal

British American Bank Note Company

Printed by lithography

Issued: April 10, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,150,000

Designer: John Alexander Crosby

The Hydrological Decade stamp of Canada from 1968

 5c multicoloured

Hydrological Decade

British American Bank Note Company

Printed by lithography

Issued: May 8, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,000,000

Designer: Imre von Mosdossy

 

The Nonsuch stamp of Canada from 1968

5c multicoloured

Voyage of the Nonsuch

British American Bank Note Company

Printed by photogravure and engraving

Issued: June 5, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,560,000

Designer: George Sarras Fanais 

 

The Lacrosse Stamp of Canada from 1968

5c black, red and yellow

Lacrosse Players

British American Bank Note Company

Printed by photogravure and engraving

Issued: July 3, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,560,000

Designer: James E. Aldridge

 

The George Brown memorial stamp of Canada from 1968

 5c multicoloured

George Brown

British American Bank Note Company

Printed by photogravure and engraving

Issued: August 21, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,000,000

Designer: Nickolay Sabolotny

The Henri Bourassa Stamp of Canada from 1968

5c vermilion, buff and black

Henri Bourassa

Canadian Bank Note Company

Printed by lithography and engraving

Issued: September 4, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,350,000

Designer: Harvey Thomas Prosser

Engraved by: Yves Baril

 

The Armistice Stamp of Canada from 1968

15c slate

Canadian Vimy Memorial, Arras France

Canadian Bank Note Company

Printed by engraving

Issued: October 15, 1968

Quantity issued: 18,250,000

Designer: Harvey Thomas Prosser

Engraved by: Yves Baril and Gordon Mash

 

 

The John McCrae Stamp Canada from 1968

 5c multicoloured

John McCrae and "In Flanders Fields"

Canadian Bank Note Company

Printed by engraving and lithography

Issued: October 15, 1968

Quantity issued: 24,000,000

Designer: Imre von Mosdossy

 

5c Christmas Stamp of Canada from 1968

 5c bright blue and black

Eskimo family

Canadian Bank Note Company

Printed by photogravure

Issued: November 1, 1968

Quantity issued: 151,700,00 untagged and 5,900,000 tagged

Designer: Harvey Thomas Prosser

 

6c Christmas Stamp of Canada from 1968

 6c deep bistre and black

Mother and infant

Canadian Bank Note Company

Printed by Photogravure

Issued: November 15, 1968

Quantity issued:71,000,000 untagged and 3,000,000 tagged

Designer: Harvey Thomas Prosser

It may surprise collectors to learn that the John McCrae memorial issue is not, in fact, printed purely by lithography, but is also engraved. The engraving is limited to the stanza of the poem, which is so thin on the stamp that it is barely noticeable as having been engraved. But it is. 

Points of Interest

There are several points of interest in these stamps, and the remainder of this post will discuss them in detail. These points of interest include:

  1. Paper characteristics other than fluorescence. 
  2. Paper fluorescence.
  3. Shade varieties.
  4. Gum varieties.
  5. Perforation varieties.
  6. Plate and corner blocks.
  7. Winnipeg tagged stamps.
  8. Booklets.
  9. Constant plate flaws.
  10. First Day Covers
  11. Postal history and cancellations.

I will now discuss each of these in detail. As we shall see, there is still plenty of scope to interest a specialist collector who is creative.

Paper Characteristics Other Than Fluorescence

In addition to the paper fluorescence, there are a number of other physical characteristics that are important, and which exhibit some variation on these stamps from one issue to the next. Sometimes, there is even variation within an issue. It is important to understand and appreciate the differences in these characteristics when forming a specialized collection, or study of these stamps. 

In studying the stamps of this year, I have noted the following types of paper:

  1. A rough surfaced horizontal wove paper that is a cream colour. The paper is unsurfaced, and under magnification there are a lot of rough spots and pores visible in the printing surface of the paper. When examined on the back, a very light horizontal mesh is visible, and it becomes clearer when held up to strong back light. This paper is found on the Grey Jays stamp. 
  2. A smoother, but porous light cream coloured horizontal wove paper. This paper shows a clear horizontal and vertical mesh pattern visible from the gum side. When held up to strong back lighting, the mesh pattern becomes more visible. The printing surface of the paper is very smooth to the touch and at first it appears to be lightly coated. But, under magnification it becomes clear that it is not coated and in fact, there are very, very fine pores visible in the paper surface. This paper is found on the Lacrosse stamp. 
  3. A cream coloured vertical wove paper that feels perfectly smooth to the touch, and has no clear mesh pattern, even when held up to strong back lighting. Under magnification, a clear transparent surface coating is visible. This paper is found on the Meteorology stamp, the Narwhal stamp and the Hydrological Decade stamp. 
  4. A similar paper to #3 above, but a very light horizontal ribbing is just visible when the stamps are viewed at an angle to a light source. This paper type is found on some printings of the Meteorology stamp. 
  5. A vertical wove cream paper, identical in all respects to #2 above. This paper is found on the Nonsuch and George Brown stamps. 
  6. A thicker, cream coloured vertical wove paper that shows no mesh pattern when viewed either from the back, or against back light. The printing surface is smooth, and when viewed under magnification, it is clear that the paper is coated. This paper is found on the Henri Bourassa stamp. 
  7. A thicker, horizontal wove paper that shows light horizontal ribbing on the back, which becomes a clearer horizontal mesh pattern when held up to strong back lighting. The printing surface is smooth, and under magnification there is a light surface coating that prevents any stray fibres from forming on the surface. This paper is found on the Armistice stamp. 
  8. A medium thickness cream coloured, vertical wove paper that shows no mesh pattern at all, even when held up to strong back lighting. The printing surface of the paper is burnished smooth and a very light surface coating of varnish is applied. This paper is found on the John McCrae and Christmas stamps. 

 

Paper Fluorescence

The papers of these issues exhibit a wide range of fluorescence, and what is "normal" for a particular issue is not necessarily dull fluorescent. In fact, this is the first period in Canadian philately where the normal paper is actually high fluorescent or hibrite, rather than dull. 

The issues that are normally found with some variety of dull fluorescent paper are:

  1. The Grey Jays stamp - normally very dull with some fluorescent fibres.
  2. The meteorology issue - can be found hibrite. 
  3. The Hydrological Decade issue - can be found hibrite.  
  4. The Voyage of the Nonsuch Issue.
  5. The Lacrosse issue. 
  6. The George Brown issue. 
  7. The Armstice issue. 

The issues that are normally found with medium fluorescent, high fluorescent or hibrite paper are:

  1. The Narwhal issue - normally medium fluorescent, but found fluorescent and dull as well. 
  2. The Henri Bourassa Issue - normally found high fluorescent and hibrite.
  3. The John McCrae Issue - normally found hibrite.
  4. The Christmas Issue - normally found hibrite. 

Now, I will illustrate the fluorescence varieties that exist on each stamp, as they appear under UV light.

The Grey Jays Stamp

This stamp is generally found on dull fluorescent paper, but a non-fluorescent variety exists also. In addition, all of the papers contain very few medium and high fluorescent fibres. The following pictures show the four main varieties of fluorescence that I have found in my examination of this stamp. 

Two varieties of dull fluorescent paper on the 5c Grey Jays stamp from 1968

Both these pairs of stamps are on dull fluorescent paper. The top pair is an ivory grey colour under UV and contains very few medium fluorescent fibres. The bottom pair is a greyish colour and contains very few medium and high fluorescent fibres. In neither case is there enough fluorescent content to alter the overall perceived fluorescence from dull. 

Dull and non-fluorescent varieties of the 5c Grey Jays stamp of Canada from 1968

In this picture, the middle stamp is non-fluorescent greyish with very few high fluorescent fibres in the paper. The inscription block is dull fluorescent greyish white, with very few medium and high fluorescent fibres. 

The Meteorology Issue

Unitrade lists this stamp as being on both dull and hibrite paper. This is not quite accurate. The dull fluorescent papers are grey and deep grey, and when you examine the back of the stamps, a sparse concentration of brownish woodpulp fibres is visible. This is also true of the so-called hibrite paper. However, in examining the so-called hibrite stamps, I would suggest that they are not truly hibrite, but more of a medium fluorescent or high fluorescent. I have found examples of each type, which I will illustrate below:

Dull paper varieties of the 5c Meteorology issue of Canada from 1968

This picture shows two varieties of the dull fluorescent paper. The block underneath is a deep, mottled grey colour, and is close to being non-fluorescent, but not quite dull enough to be considered "dead". The top stamp is a pure grey colour and is noticeably brighter than the block, but is still very much dull. In this picture you can also see a clear shade difference in the yellow colour, with the yellow of the top stamp being much paler than the yellow of the bottom block. As we shall see though, these differences are the same in normal light. The ink however does appear slightly fluorescent under UV light as compared to normal light. 

Hibrite papers on the 1968 Meteorology stamp of Canada

This picture shows two examples of the so called hibrite paper. As you can see, the brightness level is not anywhere close to the level of true hibrite paper, and the bottom stamp is very slightly brighter than the top stamp. The difference is difficult to see in this picture, but if you compare the bottom margin of the top stamp with the weather balloon of the bottom stamp, you should be able to see it. I would classify the top stamp as medium fluorescent, and the bottom stamp as high fluorescent. 

The Narwhal Stamp

This stamp is listed in Unitrade as existing on medium fluorescent paper, fluorescent paper and dull paper. The medium fluorescent paper is the common paper, with the others being less common, and the dull paper being scarce. Like the meteorology stamp, most of the papers contain brownish woodpulp fibres, which are visible on the back of the stamp under UV light. I will illustrate this here, and note that the appearance of all such stamps of this year on this type of paper look very similar. The fluorescent paper, is brighter than low fluorescent, but not as bright as the medium fluorescent, and it is the only paper that does not contain any brownish woodpulp fibres at all. 

Within each of these classifications though are variations that illustrate perfectly how confusing Unitrade's listings can be to someone who is not intimately familiar with these paper types. 

The main categories of fluorescence, and variations in them are shown below:

Three varieties of the medium fluorescent paper on the 1968 Narwhal stamp of Canada

The above three stamps are all examples of what Unitrade would classify as medium fluorescent paper. The bottom stamps, do indeed match that classification, in my opinion. However, I would note that the bottom left stamp does appear slightly darker than the bottom right one. The top stamp however, appears much brighter, and is, in fact, high fluorescent paper, being a match to the same variety that we just saw on the Meteorology issue earlier. 

Back of the 1968 Narwhal stamp showing woodpulp fibres

This picture shows the back of the above stamps. I have zoomed in on one of the stamps and you should be able to clearly see the brownish woodpulp fibres in the paper that I was referring to. 

The fluorescent paper on the 1968 Narwhal stamp of Canada 

This picture shows two varieties of the so called fluorescent paper. The bottom block is closer to the true definition of fluorescent than the top stamp that I have laid on top of the block, which can really only be described as low fluorescent. 

 The dull paper on the 1968 Narwhal stamp of Canada

Here we have two examples of the dull fluorescent paper. In actual fact, the bottom block, is really non-fluorescent greyish, being quite close to dead. The rop stamp appears much brighter, but is really dull fluorescent greyish, and looks very grey when placed next to any of the fluorescent stamps. 

The Hydrological Decade Stamp

This is the last of the BABN lithographed stamps of this year, and like the others Unitrade lists it as existing on dull fluorescent paper and hibrite paper. Unlike the other stamps, the paper of these stamps shows very few, if any brownish woodpulp fibres on the back. The so called hibrite paper is really only medium fluorescent, very similar to the same paper on the narwhal stamp. 

Within the dull fluorescent paper distinction there are at least three varieties of dull fluorescent paper that are all very similar to one another, but slightly different. The scans below illustrate the varieties that I have found on this stamp:

Dull fluorescent papers on the 1968 Hydrological decade Stamp of Canada

Here, we have three varieties of the dull fluorescent paper. The pair on the right is a dull fluorescent greyish colour under the UV light, while the bottom left stamp is a much deeper grey. The upper left stamp is much brighter, appearing whitish in the picture. In reality though, it appears brownish grey. 

The hibrite paper on the 1968 Hydrological Decade stamp of Canada

The above pair is an example of the so called hibrite paper. However, as you can see from the scan, it is not nearly bright enough to be truly hibrite. It is much closer to medium fluorescent, as seen on the Narwhal and Meteorology stamps. 

The Nonsuch Stamp

On this stamp the basic level of fluorescence is dull, but all the papers I examined contained varying amounts of medium and high fluorescent fibres. The quantity of fibres included is very small, so they do not alter the overall fluorescence. But, within these distinctions there are very obvious differences in the colour of the paper under UV light. 

In examining the stamps in my stock, I have found five varieties of dull fluorescent paper, as illustrated below:

Two varieties of dull fluorescent paper on the 1968 Nonsuch stamp of Canada

 In the above picture, the block on the right appears whiter than the block on the left, which is greyish by comparison. The left block is grey in colour, and contains a very sparse concentration of medium and high fluorescent  fibres. The right block is an ivory colour and contains very few medium and high fluorescent fibres. 

Dull fluorescent papers on the 1968 Nonsuch stamp of Canada

The top two blocks in this picture are both greyish white, while the bottom block is light grey. The top left block contains very few medium fluorescent fibres, while the other two contain a very sparse concentration of both medium and high fluorescent fibres. 

The Lacrosse Stamp

This stamp again is found only on dull fluorescent paper. However this paper is found with and without fluorescent fibres, in varying degrees. The paper colour under UV light varies also. In studying this stamp, I have found four varieties of the dull fluorescent paper:

Three varieties of dull fluorescent paper on the 1968 Lacrosse stamp of Canada

The above picture shows the three very subtle varieties of dull fluorescent paper on this issue. The differences can best be seen by comparing the selvage tab colours on each block. Note how the yellow ink is highly transformative, turning a dark goldenrod colour, that is almost brown under the UV light. 

The block on the left is a dull fluorescent ivory grey colour, and contains no fluorescent fibres at all. The block in the middle is dull fluorescent greyish and contains very few low fluorescent, medium fluorescent and high fluorescent fibres. Finally, the block on the right is a dull fluorescent greyish white colour and contains a very sparse concentration of low fluorescent fibres, and very few medium fluorescent fibres. 

It is very difficult to see the fluorescent fibres on each block from the front. So I have included pictures of two of the above blocks taken from the back, plus a fourth block that is a variation that contains more fluorescent fibres than the other three: 

Two varieties of dull fluorescent paper on the 1968 Lacrosse stamp of Canada

In the above picture, the block on the left is the paper that contains very few low fluorescent, medium fluorescent and high fluorescent fibres. The block on the right contains a sparse concentration of fibres overall, and these consist of very sparse concentrations of low fluorescent, medium fluorescent and high fluorescent fibres. 

Two varieties of dull fluorescent paper on the 1968 Lacrosse stamp of Canada

The same block from the picture above, on the right, is shown at the left of this picture next to a block that contains no fluorescent fibres at all. 

The George Brown Stamp

The paper fluorescence varieties for this stamp are similar, I suspect to the Lacrosse stamp and the Nonsuch stamp, as the paper is of basically the same type. The two colours of dull fluorescent paper that I have seen so far are deep grey, bordering on non-fluorescent and ivory. Both papers contain various amounts of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres. The concentration overall varies from very few to very sparse - so not a lot overall, and this is distributed among the different fluorescence levels. 

The picture below shows two of the varieties that I found in my study:

Two dull paper varieties in the 1968 George Brown stamp of Canada

Both stamps contain a very sparse concentration of low, medium and high fluorescent fibres in the paper. The stamp on the left appears deep grey under the UV light, while the stamp on the right is an ivory colour. 

The Henri Bourassa Stamp

This stamp is listed in Unitrade as being high fluorescent. I would tend to agree with Unitrade's classification. However, I have found varieties of the paper that are not as bright, and are more accurately described as medium fluorescent. The picture below shows an example of each of the high fluorescent and medium fluorescent papers:

Medium and high fluorescent paper on the 1968 Henri Bourassa Stamp

The block on the right is clearly brighter than the block on the left. However, neither block is bright enough to be considered hibrite. Thus, my classification for these would be to call the block on the left medium fluorescent bluish white and the right block high fluorescent bluish white. 

The Armistice Stamp

This stamp is pretty well only found on dull fluorescent paper, though again, the color does vary from a deep grey to a white colour. In addition, several plate blocks that I have show very few low and medium fluorescent fibres, though these are usually confined to the selvage. Therefore, the stamps do not have any significant number of fluorescent fibres: maybe 1 or 2 at most on a stamp. This is, for all intents and purposes the same as no fibres at all. 

The picture below shows both of the varieties of dull fluorescent paper that I have found so far:

Two varieties of dull fluorescent paper on the 1968 Armistice stamp of Canada

The plate block and single at left are both on dull fluorescent deep grey paper, that is very close to being non-fluorescent. The single that lies on top of the block is a dull fluorescent white colour. 

The John McCrae Stamp

This stamp is not described by Unitrade as to fluorescence, but the normal paper is actually between medium fluorescent and hibrite. I find hibrite to be more common, and quite often the paper will contain a few hibrite fibres that blend in with the paper and do not stand out. The picture below shows these two varieties of paper:

High fluorescent and hibrite papers on the 1968 John McCrae stamp of Canada

 The block is printed on hibrite paper, while the single stamp on top of it is printed on medium fluorescent paper, or maybe high fluorescent. 

The Christmas Stamps

On both the 5c and 6c stamps, the standard paper is hibrite. However, examples can be found that are not as bright, being more of a high fluorescent, and in some cases, medium fluorescent. 

The pictures that follow show these variations clearly:

Three variations of paper on the 1968 5c Christmas stamp of Canada

The right block is the hibrite paper, while the stamp on top of both blocks is high fluorescent and the block on the left is medium fluorescent. 

Two varieties of paper on the 6c 1968 Christmas stamp of Canada

Here, the block on the left is hibrite, while the right block and single are medium fluorescent. Although I do not have an example of it here, I am confident that this likely exists on high fluorescent paper as well. 

Shade Varieties

The issues on which we see major shade variations are shown below.

Shades of the 1968 Meteorology stamp of Canada 

On this issue we generally see variation in the yellow, and in the amount of red. The blues are fairly uniform, but the yellow varies considerably in intensity, while the amount of red is greater in some stamps making the bottom of the satellite dish appear more orangy as compared to those stamps with less red. 

In the above picture, the block shows the yellow being much deeper, and the dish appears more orangy at the bottom. This is the shade that I have found to be most common. The single stamp which I have laid on top of the block contains a much paler yellow. This would appear to be a much less common shade, based on my examination of the stamps in my stock. 

Two shades of the 1968 Narwhal stamp of Canada

For the narwhal stamp, Unitrade does state that blue shades are caused by light exposure. However, there are some noticeable differences in the appearance of the sea-green colour of the water. The green is the result of yellow colour overlaid onto the duller blue. On some stamps, such as the left stamp, the yellow is quite strong, which gives the water a much brighter green colour, while on others where there is less yellow, the water appears a duller sage-green colour. The stamp on the right is an example of this. 

Shades of the 5c George Brown stamp of Canada

On the George Brown issue the main shade differences occur on the building, as well as the yellowish background. The stamp on the left has a background that appears more of a light peach colour, whereas the right stamp has a background that appears more yellowish. 

Gum Varieties

All of the stamps issued in 1968 have dextrine gum, but within that classification the dextrine gum exhibits significant variations as follows:

  1. There is a deep yellowish, smooth gum that has a semi-gloss sheen. This gum is found on the Grey Jays stamp. 
  2. There is a deep yellowish, streaky gum, that has a semi-gloss sheen. This gum is found on the Grey Jays stamp. 
  3. There is a light cream, smooth gum that has a semi-gloss sheen. This gum is found on the Lacrosse, Nonsuch and George Brown stamp. 
  4. There is a cream coloured, smooth gum that has a satin sheen. Under magnification, a very fine diagonal crack pattern is visible. This gum is found on the Meteorology, Narwhal and Hydrological decade stamps. 
  5. There is a streaky, yellowish gum with a satin sheen, that shows fine vertical blemishes on the gum surface. This gum is found on the Henri Bourassa stamp. 
  6. There is a streaky, yellowish cream gum with a semi-gloss sheen. This is found on the John McCrae stamp. 
  7. There is a smooth. cream gum with a highly glossy sheen. This gum is found on the Christmas stamps.  

Perforation Varieties

Three main perforation methods were used to perforate the stamps of this year:

  1. Line perf. 11.95, 11.85 and compounds - used by CBN.
  2. Line perf. 10.9 - used by BABN (quoted as 11 in Unitrade)
  3. Comb perf. 10 - used by BABN.

The CBN used the line perforation on all the stamps that it printed, and from what I can see, it used both gauge machines in tandem with one another, so that on these stamps it is possible to find all four possible perforation measurements. The BABN used the line perf. 10.9 on the stamps that it printed by lithography only. The stamps that it printed by photogravure and engraving were comb perforated 10. The field stock sheets of these later stamps were not perforated on the outer edges between panes, but rather, were guillotined apart. As a result the field stock panes had 3 straight edges and the philatelic panes had 2 straight edges. 

Plate and Corner Blocks

It is during this period that we begin to see the disappearance of plate blocks and a change in the fundamental nature of what a plate block is. Up to this point, the sheets of stamps consist of four, six or 8 panes of between 50 and 100 stamps, with a printer's inscription located along the outer edges of the print sheet layout. This means that each pane in the corner of the layout would have one corner that bore the plate number and inscription. So, the plate block had a very real philatelic significance because it served as evidence of the pane position that it came from, and it was often the only way to prove which printing the stamps in the block came from. 

Starting in this year, with the lithographed issues, we see the disappearance of plate numbers, and we start to see sheets that contain a plate block in every corner. The field stock sheets were trimmed on all sides and contained no plate blocks. The stamps printed by photogravure and engraving and the Armistice Issue contain a plate number in the selvage, but it is always plate 1. So, there is really no variation in the plate numbers, and this is the first time in Canadian philatelic history that this is the case, for all stamp issues of the year. 

Winnipeg Tagged Stamps

The only issues that were tagged were the Christmas stamps. Unlike previous years where both the third class and first class stamps were tagged with two side bars, the 5c stamps are tagged with a single centre bar. In fact, from this point forward, all of the lower value Christmas stamps, up to 1972 are tagged with a centre bar, rather than 2 side bars. 

On the 5c stamps, the tagging bars are 4 mm wide and are spaced 20 mm apart in the horizontal direction. The darkness of the bars varies, from a very pale cream yellow that is easy to miss when looking at lots of stamps, to a dark yellow band that is almost impossible to overlook. The picture below shows both intensities of tagging:

Light and dark tagging on the 1968 Christmas stamp of Canada

The dark tagging is shown on the single, whereas the tagging on the block is light. You can just see it on the left hand stamps, if you look between the NA of "Canada" and notice a slight darkening. 

On the 6c the tagging bars are 8.5 mm wide, as on most other Winnipeg tagged stamps. The spacing between the bars is 16 mm in the horizontal direction. On all the stamps that I have examined, the tagging is of medium intensity, as shown in the following scan:

The Winnipeg tagged 6c 1968 Christmas Stamp of Canada

As you can see, the tagging bars are clearly visible, but they are not as dark as on the 5c stamp with dark tagging above. 

 

Booklets

The 5c Christmas stamps were issued in experimental booklets that consisted of two panes of 10 stamps contained in a soft, flimsy paper cover. These replaced the cello-paqs, which were deemed unsuitable as a portable storage solution for stamps. These booklets were held together very loosely, and often fall apart when opened. They were constructed in such a way that half of the booklets open from the right, and half open from the left. They were issued in both tagged and untagged formats. Curiously, there is almost no difference in the catalogue price of the tagged versus untagged booklets. This is odd, given that the tagged stamps comprise no more than about 3% of the total issue quantity. I would therefore have expected, as I suspect most of you would, to have found a greater discrepancy in the price of the tagged versus the untagged booklets. 

An example of one of these booklets is shown below:

1968 Christmas Booklet front cover

The cover pages are printed on a dull fluorescent paper, and I have not, as yet, noted any significant variations in the fluorescence. I have also not found any significant variations in the colour of the paper, or the red ink. 

Constant Plate Flaws

Like the previous periods of the modern era, 1968's issues exhibit their fair share of contant plate varieties. The nature of the varieties changes a little bit though. Up until now, most of the varieties consist of broken lines or dots of colour on engraved stamps. Certainly, there are some stamps like the Grey Jays stamp, whose varieties are similar in nature to what we have seen before, but most of the varieties are completely different in nature, due to the new printing process of lithography. The main type of variety that emerges for the first time this year is the donut flaw, which is a dot caused by a speck of dust on the printing plate. It causes some displacement of the inks, which gives the appearance of a dot. Another type of variety is a line of colour where there shouldn't be. Finally, another variety comes in the form of differences in the order of the printing. Although the stamps are multicoloured, the effect is achieved through the separate printing of the component colours. These can be printed in a different order however, and it is possible to see differences caused by the colours being printed differently. The red over blue variety on the 1968 Meteorology Issue is an example of this type of variety. 

The constant plate flaws that are documented in Unitrade are:

  1. The pine cone seed variety on the Grey Jays stamp, which occurs on position 47. This variety shows as a small dot just below the end of the second branch below the beak of the second jay in the foreground. 
  2. The sunspot variety on the Hydrological Decade Issue, which occurs on position 27. This variety is a small brown dot in the sun at the upper left. 
  3. The diagonal stroke in the first "A" of "Canada" as well as a dot in the "A" on the John McCrae Issue. 

In addition to the constant varieties, there are a number of non-constant varieties that are nonetheless of interest to the specialist. These are generally not listed in Unitrade, but a few are mentioned in footnotes. Some of these include:

  1. Donut flaws on the lithographed stamps in various places on the design. 
  2. The McCrab variety on the John McCrae issue, in which the "E" of "McCrae" appears as a "B". 
  3. Dots in the margin of the Christmas stamps. 

In addition to these flaws, we begin to see the appearance of kiss prints, in which some of the colours of the stamps appear doubled. The first stamp that we see this on is the Lacrosse stamp, in which the red is doubled. This is now listed in Unitrade for the first time this year. I suspect that these kiss prints will also exist on the George Brown stamp as well. 

Finally, we see some varieties that appear to be colour varieties, but are actually caused by shifts of one colour relative to another on the stamp. So, for example, the Nonsuch stamp exists with what appears to be a pink coloured wave in front of the ship. This is actually caused by a shift of the red colour that is normally in the water. 

The following scans and pictures illustrate some of these varieties:

5c 1968 Metorology stamp of Canada with red over blue variety

This picture shows the "red over blue variety". In the stamp on the left, which is the normal, common stamp, you can see that the weather vane is clearly the top colour, having been printed on top of the satellite dish. You can see this by looking at the points where the dish and weather vane intersect. However, on the right stamp, if you look at the same spots, you can see that the red colour is on top of the blue. 

The sunspot variety on the 5c Hydrological Decade stamp of Canada from 1968

This picture shows the "sunspot" variety on the Hydrological Decade Issue. 

The Pink wave variety on the 5c Nonsuch stamp of Canada from 1968

This picture shows the unlisted "pink waves" variety on the Nonsuch issue. The ripples both above and below the main wave in front of the ship appear notably pink in the left stamp as compared to the stamp at right. It may be easier to see by looking at close up scans of each stamp, as follows:

The normal waves on the 1968 Nonsuch stamp of Canada

This is a close-up scan of the right stamp showing the normal waves. 

Close up scan of the pink waves variety on the 1968 Nonsuch stamp of Canada

This is a close-up scan of the pink waves on the left stamp. The variety is caused by an upward shift of the blue and pink colour that is not even, which allows the pink colour to be seen. 

Donut flaw on 1968 John McCrae Stamp of Canada

 This picture shows a typical "donut" flaw that can be found on almost any stamp printed by either photogravure or lithography. They are not common, but can occur in any place on the stamp, and are not usually constant. Nonetheless, they are quite striking, and are of interest to collectors who specialize in varieties. 

The next two scans show the "stroke through A and dot at top of the first A in Canada" that occurs in all stamps on the first column of all panes. The variety is quite subtle and very difficult to see, even at 1200dpi. However, once you know what to look for you can see it quite readily in reality:

Normal A in Canada on the 1968 John McCrae Stamp of Canada

This is the normal "Canada". Note the complete absence of any markings in any of the letters. 

Stroke through A on the 1968 John McCrae Stamp of Canada

Here is the variety. If you look about mid way up the left side of the first A, you can just make out a green line that crosses the white. It is almost vertical, but not quite. You can also just make out a dot at the top of the letter. 

Last, but not least, there are the margin flaws that can be found on some of the Christmas stamps. These consist of small dots or ink smudges inside the margins. The picture below shows the only example I have found to date:

Margin smudge on the 1968 Christmas stamp of Canada

First Day Covers

1968 Grey Jays stamp of Canada on Rose Craft First Day Cover

All of the stamps issued can be collected in a wide variety of first day covers. During this period there were a very large number of companies and cachet designers who serviced first day covers for collectors. For any given issue there will be well over a dozen different major cachet makers. The most common covers are Artcraft and RoseCraft, like the cover shown above. Generally these were serviced out of Ottawa, but occasionally one can find covers from smaller post offices. 

An example of a Cole cover with a coloured cachet is shown for the 1968 Meteorology Issue below:

Cole FDC for the 1968 Meteorology Issue of Canada

The covers generally can be found franked with singles, pairs, plain blocks of 4 and plate blocks, all positions. So, if you collect them all, there is a very large amount of scope. Most are very inexpensive for this year too, which makes them attractive to collectors on limited budgets. 

Postal History and Cancellations

As with all other years that were heavy in commemoratives, there are some interesting opportunities to collect postal history. Generally speaking, first class domestic covers where the postage was paid with a single commemorative stamp are not uncommon, but airmail covers, in which the foreign rate was paid with one or more commemoratives from the year, are not common and are quite desirable. The picture below shows one such cover that was sent from Kamloops to East Germany:

15c Airmail cover to East Germany from Canada in 1968.

This cover is a single weight, first class airmail cover to DDR. The 15c rate has been paid using three different commemorative stamps, all of which were issued in 1968 when the cover was mailed. So, all three stamps are used in the correct period. This is what makes this cover so good. Three of the same commemorative would be much less desirable, or one stamp out of period would be less desirable. But three different in-period commemoratives is the best way in which this rate could be made up. 

With 10 different stamps in this year, there are a lot of possible frankings that one could seek out. 

This brings me to the end of my examination of the 1968 commemorative issues. Next week, I will look at the issues of 1969. 

Previous article The Commemorative Issues of 1969 - Part One
Next article The Commemorative Stamps of 1967

Comments

John C. - 1, 2018

Great writeup, I learned a lot about modern variations. Think the new style printing works less well on stamp issues that look back. McCrae and George Brown come off slightly cartoonish. Love the war memorial one with the Randian style that I would have thought more 1958 than 1968.

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